Tag - nashville

iWhatever: It’s the Content, Stupid

Ipad  With 24-some hours remaining before introducing the newest world-transforming, life saving, cancer-curing gizmo, the iWhatever, Apple's recent acquisition of Lala.com looms ever more intriguing.  

The Internets are rife with speculation about what that merger means.  Will iTunes be moving to the cloud?  Will Apple start offering streaming music for a fraction of the cost of downloads?  Will there be an "all your ears can eat" subscription service? Will Michael Robertson's head explode? (Michael came up with a cloud-based music delivery scenario ten years before people started talking about "cloud computing" — and the music industry promptly clubbed him into oblivion. And they're still clubbing him.  Another case of "the second mouse gets the cheese" ?) 

Whatever the plans for Lala, you can bet it figures tightly into Apple's plans for its new gizmo, which conceivably offers the potential to completely alter how people use digital technologies.  That it will a) not have a hard drive and b) have all kinds of wireless capabilities pretty well dictates that whatever content it does deliver will not likely be stored on the device itself.  

Now we're starting to see all kinds of speculation about the "content" deals that Apple has been quietly making as it gets ready for tomorrow's big announcement: 

According to various rumors, Apple has been in contact with a variety of media outlets ranging from magazine publishers like Condé Nast to newspaper vendors like the New York Times to book publishers like McGraw-Hill Education to bring a variety of publications to the tablet. And this I think represents one of the key pillars to Apple's successful business strategy–marrying devices with content.

What's more, Apple appears poised to dramatically expand the capabilities of its already capable iTunes platform. Via its acquisition of Lala.com, Apple will be able to sell music, and perhaps other content, through a streaming scenario–and may be able to charge less for the stream than for the straight download. The company also is rumored to be planned a Web-based version of iTunes, which would make the platform more user friendly and nimble than its current 100-or-so megabytes. Couple these advances with the addition of newspapers, magazines and books to iTunes and the platform becomes a one-stop content shop for iPhones, iTablets and the rest.

via www.fiercemobilecontent.com

As I already mentioned on that other blog post yesterday, my iPhone has already become my content delivery device of choice.  It has pretty much displaced my Kindle because it not only delivers more stuff, but I can do more with that stuff from the iPhone than the Kindle.  The iWhatever promises to put all that iPhone capability into a more Kindle-size package.  I can hardly f'ing wait. 

It's the combination of content and technology that makes the iPhone more valuable to me than the Kindle.  So I think you can pretty well bet that music is going to be a big part of the content that iWhatever delivers. 

Cloud storage?  Streaming delivery?  Lower prices?  Subscription service?   My bet is on all of the above.  And exploding heads to boot. 

“Sword in Hand,” Analog Crusader Garth Brooks Storms Ass-First into the Digital Future

Bonaza-land-mccluhan-scan You really do have to give Garth Brooks some kind of credit — for putting his head so deep in the analog sand that his digital ass is just ripe for a swift kicking.

It’s not ironic enough that — after sitting on the sidelines for most of this millennium — he’s now following in the tracks of trail-blazers like Elvis and Liberace and taking his act to Las Vegas. No, not only that, but now that Garth Van Winkle has awakened, he actually seems to think that the past ten years haven’t happened:

“What I find myself doing with these record label heads is they’re going, ‘Hey, we’re doing great!’ And the truth is, they’re doing great with what they’ve got to work with. But the truth is, they’re making one-twentieth of what they should be making. The people that are running Taylor Swift‘s place? Those people, even though they’re the most successful, I betcha in the ’90s, they would’ve made 10 times more — without piracy and without having to sell everything at 99 cents. If that young lady, if for every single she sold, she sold an album, those people could have money for artist development again and for taking chances.”

Marshal McLuhan knew all about that kind of logic.  He called it “seeing the future through a rear-view mirror.”  Something about moving backward, “rump bumping into the future…”

Garth Brooks has the reputation of being a pretty smart guy, but you do have to wonder if spending the past ten years at home with his children hasn’t somehow possessed him of the delusion that toothpaste can go back into the tube.

And now, here he is, putting his Stetson back on and getting back on his virtual high horse to take on the 99c download — just as that whole model itself stands on the threshold of obsolescence.

I sure wish I could be around to see the expression on Garth’s face when he finds out that what used to be a dollar is now… a dime.

If that.

Will Google’s New Music Service Affect Your Business? Surprise: It Might.

Kate O’Neil Gets It:

Kateo What I think is even more interesting, from the standpoint of a
meta-marketer, is the way this further positions Google as the champion
of user experience. Structured semantic search results are going to
continue to emerge, and they will put relevant answers in the path of the searcher, not just options for a possible destination.

If your business has historically provided stock quotes, then you
already experienced this when Google (and other engines) put stock
quotes at the top of search results for a ticker symbol.

If you’re a music content provider, you’re about to experience this.

If your business hasn’t been affected yet, it probably will soon.

Amen, sister.

Delusions Persist: Nashville ‘s Music Row Chimes in on Google Music

Google-music This morning Nashville’s Tennessean assesses the impact that the new Google music service — revealed yesterday but not to be  officially announced until next week — will have on the crumbling ruins of Music City’s most visible industry:

The news comes as music CD sales have tumbled dramatically over the past decade. Sales of digital downloads have not made up for the revenue loss.

But Nashville area record label executives, along with those in the creative side of the industry, said Google’s initiative could help them reach more listeners — and sell more music

It’s hard to explain to people who’ve built their livelihoods on the concept of “selling music” that their business model is going away completely. It’s hard to drill into their heads the idea that the shift from “ownership” to “access” virtually obsolesces the whole idea of “selling” music.

So Music Row types who are reading the Tennessean this morning are probably reaching for their pitchforks when they read a quote from a certain blogger re: the ultimate future of digital music delivery, in which the Google move is just more step in the inexorable direction:

“I’m worried that we are on the threshold of a time when the
remunerative value of music is zero,” said Nashville writer and
entrepreneur Paul Schatzkin, whose Celestial Jukebox blog focuses on digital music.

“Your browser is becoming your iPod,” Schatzkin said. “There is a behavioral
shift afoot where consumers are getting accustomed to the concept of
access to an infinite universe of music versus ownership of a limited
personal library.”

Elsewhere, the tech blog Ars Technica weighs in, confirming yesterday’s report that the service on Google is only going to offer “snippets,” not the full “first time for free” stream that Lala.com users get:

According to insiders speaking to the Wall Street Journal, the music will come in the form of free, embedded streams from either Lala.com or iLike.com.
Those who are interested in buying the music will be able to do so from
either of those two sites—iLike allows users to buy unprotected MP3s
directly but also provides a link to iTunes, while Lala only sells the
unprotected MP3 with no other direct links….

Some leaked screenshots allegedly of the new service are available at TechCrunch,
showing that users won’t be able to listen to an entire song from
Google’s search results, but rather just a snippet. Realistically, this
makes sense—most searchers want to confirm that they found what they
were searching for, and then click through to buy or browse through
similar music.

Agreed, that is the only reason a 30-second snippet of music ever makes sense — when I’ve already heard something somewhere else, and want to confirm that that’s the track I’m looking for.

Ars Technica tries to make the case that Google Music (or Audio, or whatever its called) is not a “game changer” for music delivery, but I wonder if they’re missing the point.  Maybe “incremental game changer” is an oxymoron, but that’s what this is — another step in the arrival of the Celestial Jukebox.

Granted, I’m not an objective observer on this subject, but I can’t help but think that the big winner in this is not Google — and certainly not the calcified Luddites on Music Row — but Lala.com, and, by extension, the music audience.

The link through Google search will bring more people to Lala.com, where many will discover for the first time the marvel of unrestricted access to an virtually infinite library of music (if it’s more than you can listen to in a lifetime, that might qualify as “infinite”).  Then they’ll start shelling out that dime-a-track to listen to things they like again; once that happens, they’re hooked on the “access” model, and Music Row will never again be able to sell (at least those people) encoded plastic wafers for $15 a pop.

NPR Strikes Again, Sarah Siskind “Live” on the Celestial Jukebox

SarahToT OK, so if you've been following this blog at all, you know I'm something of a fan of Sarah Siskind, a Nashville based singer/songwriter who is starting now to break out nationally. She was a commanding presence in this falls's "Ten out of Tenn" tour (photo at right with Madi Diaz, Mikky Ekko and Andrew Belle).
Now she is featured on NPR's "World Cafe," talking about her career, her new CD "Say it Louder," and offering up some previously unreleased tracks:

October 13, 2009 from WXPNSarah Siskind began writing music at age 11. Born to a family of bluegrass musicians, she'd been exposed since birth to both contemporary music and the classics. Since releasing her first album at 14, Siskind has won several songwriting competitions, shared a stage with Doc Watson and Maya Angelou, and received a Grammy nomination for writing 2007's Alison Krauss song "Simple Love." In 2008, Siskind toured with the popular indie-rock band Bon Iver, which frequently covers her song "Lovin's for Fools" at shows.


Clickety click
to visit NPR.org, listen to the interview and in-studio performances, and the "bonus" tracks.

Or click the "play" button here to listen to "Say It Louder" in its entirety courtesy Lala.com: 

Say It Louder – Sarah Siskind

Now Playing on the Celestial Jukebox: Bonnie Bishop

Bonniebishop After the Americana Conference last month, I sat down with the showcase listing and Lala.com and started listening to the performers (someday I’ll explain why I hate the word “acts”) whose performances I’d missed.

One of the first performers I discovered was Bonnie Bishop, out of Austin.  The tune that sunk the harpoon is the second cut from this album, “Lucky Ones.”  With Bonnie’s throaty, softly growling vocals and a unique take on the vagaries of love, here’s the sort of song you will likely never hear on the radio that makes you — well, me, anyway — so grateful to have access through this channel I’m calling the Celestial Jukebox.

I listened to “Lucky Ones” about a half dozen times, and decided this morning I need to spring (right, the whole buck…) for the entire album.  And the rest of the record is just as strong as Lucky Ones.  But I’m going to hold out until Bonnie plays a show here in Nashville later this month before I spring to the actual CD, and maybe get Bonnie to sign it for me.

Photo of Bonnie Bishop by jbwutx via flickr.com

Ten out of Tenn Redux!

TOT Nashville. Music City USA. Most people think cowboy hats and honky tonks. However, those who really know Nashville know it’s one of the best emerging artist scenes in the country. A community of artists making their own unique brands of diverse, organic pop music in the shadows of today’s slick commercial country music industry. At the forefront of this community are ten artists who have banded together to form Ten Out Of Tenn, a collective of incredibly talented friends who, as individual artists, have released over thirty albums, had song placements in countless television programs & films and shared the stage with musicians such as REM, Sarah McLachlan and John Mayer. No longer spinning their wheels on their own, the artists now travel down the highway together in one tour bus.

via www.facebook.com

If there wasn’t so much going on in Nashville this week (like Americana Conference, which I get to go to because I was around when it started ten years ago…) I’d seriously consider driving up to Kville to see this. It’s THAT IMPORTANT and THAT GOOD.